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Dumbo
07-03-06, 11:06 PM
From allblacks.com

When Isaia Toeava burst upon the international scene last year as the surprise choice in the All Blacks' selection for the Grand Slam tour, it was said that his backline versatility was one of his best assets.

That could be put to the test as early as this weekend when the 20-year-old Aucklander is considered for the Hurricanes midfield for their game with the Stormers in Cape Town.

The loss, through injury, of centre Conrad Smith and Tana Umaga has left a serious gap in the position of strength that the Hurricanes went into the Rebel Sport Super 14 enjoying in its backline.

It is no coincidence that Toeava should be considered for the role which he last filled with the New Zealand Under-19 team last year.

The coach of that side, Aussie McLean, is the Hurricanes' back coach and knows the 20-year-old's capabilities.

McLean told the Dominion-Post that the loss of two All Blacks was countered by having Ma'a Nonu (also an All Black), Tane Tu'ipulotu and Toeava available for consideration.

The greatest loss was the experience that Umaga and Smith brought to the side.

That could be crucial at the weekend when the Stormers field a side with three Springboks in the backline, De Wet Barry, Marius Joubert and Jean de Villiers.

Joubert has been coming back from injury in recent weeks while de Villiers has been battling to make the field after being named in the starting XV in recent weeks.

Heading into the fifth week of the campaign, McLean said sides were starting to settle into their games while defensive strategies were also emerging in opposing sides.

"We have't seen too many performances from teams that are flawless but attacks takes longer to develop.

"There's a high degree of skill in breaking down a defence and to get the timing, lines and execution of passing at the right time is not easy," McLean said.

He said the Hurricanes were not far away from achieving their patterns although they are still not playing to their potential. However, they have created a lot of opportunities, especially in their last two games.

Last week's loss to the Cheetahs was a disappointment for the second-placed side but, McLean said, "We're not in a bad position on the table and though we're not playing that well yet, there are some good signs that we're not far away."
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Seeing Toeava in the midfield... I'd pay good bucks to see that.
Backline I'd line to see this weekend...

9. Piri Weepu
10. Jimmy Gopperth
11. Lome Fa’atau
12. Ma'a Nonu
13. Toeava
14. Hosea Gear
15. Shannon Paku